Complaints figures to Australian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are released four times a year from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). As of the start of May 2011, results from the previous quarter showed a 31% increase in complaints across the Australian broadband and telephone industry, while the second largest ADSL provider, iiNet, actually bucked the trend by decreasing its number of complaints.

iiNet believes its strong focus on customer service has seen its customers’ levels of satisfaction rise just as industry dissatisfaction increased at an exponential rate. iiNet Chief Customer Officer, Maryna Pienaar, said about the positive result: “iiNet's success has been built on a foundation of customer focus and a unique service culture so any reduction in complaints in this climate is a step in the right direction,"

iiNet has expressed the notion that customer service is an ongoing process, and are proud to have an honest perspective when judging its own actions. Ms. Pienaar continues: "We don’t pretend that we always get it right, so we’re continually looking for new ways to improve the customer experience with a commitment to managing customer credit issues on a personal level.”

Australia’s telecommunications industry has long had a reputation for having low levels of customer service and technical support quality, with the major ISPs like Telstra BigPond, Optus, Vodafone and Dodo receiving large numbers of complaints each year. With the entire industry receiving a nearly one third increase over the previous quarter it would seem the majority of ISPs are not focusing on the issue.

Whether customers are complaining about billing problems, technical issues, or simply the quality of service, Australian ISPs consistently have looked at improving download limits, increasing off-peak usage periods, adding free phone calls and other product benefits, as opposed to this glaring imperfection in the industry.

An intelligent marketing approach would be to ensure customer happiness is paramount, and a few broadband providers like iiNet, Westnet and Internode have made a name for themselves by separating their style of service interaction from the majority of other telecommunications companies.

iiNet’s CFO looks at the matter in more depth: "With more and more people making regular use of the technologies now available including broadband, smartphones, mobile phones and subscription TV, it was widely predicted that the industry would see an increase in complaints … We all need to look past the handling of complaints, to the reasons causing the complaints in the first place.”

The question then comes to mind, what does iiNet do that makes its customers happy that other ISPs do not? As most Australians are telecommunications customers in one form or another, it would seem the answers are simple. Ensure your customers get the service they have paid for, pay only what they are supposed to pay, have someone in Australia pick up the phone or call them back when they’re trying to make contact, and have knowledgeable staff manning technical support and customer service calls so issues can be solved as soon as possible with as little fuss imaginable.

With a decrease in complaints while the industry surrounding it has another large increase, iiNet should he happy knowing it has made a mark by providing something very simple, yet seemingly elusive to the majority of other Australian internet and phone companies.